A small nation occupying half of an island in Maritime Southeast Asia, Timor-Leste is home to a young and culturally diverse population of about 1.2 million people. USAID’s strong history of partnership with Timor-Leste began even prior to the country’s independence in 2002. Since independence, USAID has supported Timor-Leste’s efforts to establish strong, democratic institutions and a viable economy.
Timor-Leste’s economic growth over the past decade has been fueled by its petroleum resources. However, nascent state institutions, limited human and organizational capacity, and poor infrastructure constrain broad-based economic growth. Roughly half of Timor-Leste’s people live in extreme poverty, due in large part to a lack of non-farm employment opportunities.
Widespread poverty contributes to poor health and chronic malnutrition — both key drivers of stunted growth, where children have truncated height and weight for their age. Timor-Leste has one of the world’s worst rates of stunting for children under 5 years old, at 58 percent.
In support of accelerated, inclusive economic growth, USAID works closely with the government and people of Timor-Leste to improve agricultural productivity; encourage private-sector competitiveness; tackle serious health challenges, particularly those affecting women and children; strengthen sub-national, democratic institutions and good governance mechanisms, including anti-corruption systems; protect the environment; and help at-risk populations adapt to climate change.
Last updated: February 11, 2015
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